Northern Ireland

Authority in Colin Duffy case rests with London tribunal

Colin Duffy Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Colin Duffy is one of three men facing trial on charges of belonging to an IRA grouping, and attempting to murder members of the PSNI

High Court judges have ruled they have no jurisdiction to hear a legal challenge by republican Colin Duffy.

Exclusive authority for determining the case was held to rest with London's Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

Mr Duffy, 48, is challenging the government for allegedly refusing to guarantee his meetings with lawyers were not under covert surveillance.

He is one of three men facing trial on charges of being in an IRA grouping, and attempting to murder PSNI members.

They face further counts of possessing firearms and ammunition, and conspiracy to murder security force members.

The alleged offences are connected to a gun attack on a police convoy in north Belfast.

A PSNI Landrover and two accompanying vehicles came under fire on the Crumlin Road in December 2013.

Mr Duffy, from Lurgan, County Armagh, is charged along with Alex McCrory, 54, from Sliabh Dubh View in Belfast; and Henry Fitzsimons, 47, of no fixed address.

Assurances

Separate legal proceedings were launched in an effort to gain assurances that the security services were not listening in to Mr Duffy's legal consultations.

He was said to have received satisfactory assurances from the Prison Service, Courts and Tribunal Service and the National Crime Agency.

But no such guarantee was given by the Home Office.

A panel of three senior judges had to first determine if they had authority to deal with the case, or if the issues should go before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal set up to monitor surveillance authorised under the 2000 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).

The tribunal sits as an independent court to decide on allegations of unlawful intrusion by public bodies and claims under the Human Rights Act.

Delivering judgment, Lord Justice Weatherup held that the proceedings were directed against the secretary of state as representative of the intelligence services.

He confirmed: "We are satisfied that the Divisional Court (of the High Court) does not have jurisdiction to hear this application for judicial review, and that exclusive jurisdiction lies with the Investigatory Powers Tribunal."

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